Acts 10: 44-48 (NRSVA)
44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, 46 for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, 47 ‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ 48 So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.
Imagine a church without the labels giving information such as: “contemporary praise,” or “traditional worship,” or “creche for children,” because all kinds of songs were sung, all worship styles were the norm and children weren’t dismissed from our presence after 15 minutes, for the Service was intergenerational every week!
Imagine a church without gender designated expectations, without the need to defend our stance on a given theological position, without parish boundaries.
Imagine a church where there was no majority of ethnicity – but a truly blended ethnic community representing the God Who made us all in their image, or a Church where the gender representation was balanced. Imagine a Church where there was no formula for membership, a Church where the building was secondary, or perhaps much further down our list of priorities.
In our reading today, the circumcised believers were shocked that God was bigger than their understanding, bigger than their imagination! I wonder what God thinks when looking at us today, 2,000 years later with all our conditions for membership, with all our subtle and not-so-subtle hints and clues as to “who” we are in our church. The love of Jesus is so wonderful, I think of the very old song we used to sing as kids… “So high you can’t get over it, so low you can’t under it and so wide you can’t get round it. Oh, Wonderful Love.”
Imagine a church where we believed this and then did the harder work of living it. What an impact that would have on the world!
Eternal God, give us grace and courage to embrace Your kind of love, boundless and for whosoever. Amen.